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The race for the 2015-16 Premier League title could be officially over by this time tomorrow. The biggest day in the history of Leicester City Football Club awaits…
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Swansea City vs. Liverpool — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra
Swansea City (40 points – 15th place) are ever so close to guaranteeing their status as a Premier League club for another season, and a win over Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium would do the mathematical trick for the Swans. Three points would also vault them into 13th place with two games remaining on the season, a dream-land finish to the campaign that months ago looked destined to end in a relegation scrap.
As for Liverpool, the’re 10 points back of Manchester City for fourth place and UEFA Champions League qualification, so don’t be surprised if Jurgen rests a handful of key contributors with both eyes focused on Thursday’s UEFA Europa League semifinal second leg against Villarreal (Liverpool trail 1-0 after the first leg). Winning the UEL is the Reds’ last avenue for Champions League qualification next season, and the kind of recruiting tool Klopp will so desperately need to build his own squad in the summer transfer window.
Injuries: Swansea — OUT: Leroy Fer (hamstring), Alberto Paloschi (hamstring) | Liverpool — OUT: Divock Origi (ankle), Emre Can (ankle), Jordan Henderson (knee), Mamadou Sakho (suspension); QUESTIONABLE: Philippe Coutinho (illness)
Manchester United vs. Leicester City — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra
The last nine months have merely been building up to this day, this game, for this team — the soon-to-be Premier League champions,
Manchester United Leicester City. Are you prepared to live in a world where, for 12 full months, the tag of “defending Premier League champions” will precede any mention of the Foxes? You better be, because it’s happening, perhaps on Sunday.
Louis Van Gaal has challenged his Man United side to not be the foes against which Leicester win the title, but that’ll be easier said than done against the side with the best points tally from away games (37 points from 17 games) in the league this season, including away triumphs over Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and West Ham United already. When these sides met back in November, it was United who grabbed a second-half equalizer for a 1-1 draw, canceling out Jamie Vardy‘s opener which set a new Premier League record for consecutive games with a game (11). The math is simple: a win for Leicester, and they’re PL champions; a draw for Leicester and a draw or loss for Tottenham at Chelsea on Monday, and Leicester are champions; a loss for Leicester and a loss for Tottenham, and Leicester are champions.
Southampton vs. Manchester City — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra
West Ham’s thrashing of West Bromwich Albion on Saturday (plus a possible result for Man United on Sunday) at least makes the race for a top-four finish interesting for Man City, inasmuch as they need to win away to Southampton in order to maintain a five point gap between themselves and fifth place (a win would see them go back above Arsenal for third, based on goal differential).
As for Southampton, a win would secure their third straight top-eight finish in the PL, with a decent shot at leapfrogging Liverpool for seventh. When Saints and City met back in November, it was the latter side who took all three points in a 3-1 home victory.
Saturday’s results mean we’re not much closer to sorting the mess near both the European places and relegation zone in Germany.
[ MORE: Premier League roundup ]
Borussia Dortmund 5-1 Wolfsburg
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had one heck of a 21-minute cameo, scoring twice in two minutes to pour misery on the visitors, as Borussia Dortmund already had a heck of an advantage when the big scoring forward hit the pitch. Shinji Kagawa, Adrian Ramos and Marco Reus scored to stake BVB to a 3-0, and Andre Schurrle‘s 86th minute goal only served to spoil the shutout. USMNT 17-year-old Christian Pulisic was an unused sub.
Bayern Munich 1-1 Borussia Monchengladbach
The Allianz Arena faithful had seen 14 wins in 15 matches heading into Saturday’s match, only to watch over its first draw. Thomas Muller’s sixth minute goal looked like Bayern could cruise to a title-clinching win, but ‘Gladbach hung tight in an even affair that saw its final score line courtesy of Andre Hahn’s 72nd minute tally.
Darmstadt 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
A massive comeback win has put Niko Kovac’s hosts on the verge of avoiding a relegation playoff against the 2.Bundesliga’s third-placed side. Mario Vrancic gave Darmstadt a halftime lead, but Makoto Hasebe equalized in the 56th minute before inspired substitute Stefan Aigner claimed a winner. Eintracht is level on points with 15th place Stuttgart, which places 17th place Werder Bremen on Monday, and is within a win and help of passing the visitors.
Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Hertha Berlin
Hertha’s dream season has hit a rough patch, and a rough first 16 minutes resulted in it dropping into fifth place. Julian Brandt and Lars Bender scored early to lift Bayer eight points clear of fourth place, while Hertha is now tied with fourth-place Gladbach on points.
Augsburg 0-0 Koln
Hoffenheim 2-1 Ingolstadt — Hosts now four points clear.
Hannover 1-3 Schalke — Hosts outshoot visitors 21-10, lose.
Mainz 0-0 Hamburger
Werder Bremen vs. Stuttgart — Monday
|Hertha BSC Berlin||32||14||7||11||41||40||1||9-5-2||5-2-9||49|
|FC Schalke 04||32||14||6||12||46||47||-1||8-4-4||6-2-8||48|
|FSV Mainz 05||32||13||7||12||43||41||2||8-3-5||5-4-7||46|
|1. FC Köln||32||10||11||11||36||40||-4||5-4-7||5-7-4||41|
|FC Ingolstadt 04||32||10||10||12||30||37||-7||7-5-4||3-5-8||40|
Newcastle United has blown the race to escape the drop zone wide open, while Sunderland still controls its own destiny and Norwich City is angling for a lifeline.
[ MORE: Examining the relegation picture ]
Those are the lessons from a busy day in the Premier League with very little action, let alone movement, in the top half of the table.
Arsenal 1-0 Norwich City — RECAP
There were anti-Arsene Wenger protests before and after the Gunners defeated relegation-threatened Norwich on a Danny Welbeck goal, and Arsenal’s performance did little to quell the embattled manager’s critics. That said, the Gooners’ club remains in the Top Three while Norwich sits 19th place.
Newcastle United 1-0 Crystal Palace — RECAP
Andros Townsend curled home a gorgeous free kick, and Karl Darlow made a tremendous penalty stop on ex-Magpies star Yohan Cabaye as Newcastle rose out of the relegation zone for the first time since Valentine’s Day by defeating former manager Alan Pardew‘s Eagles. Palace continues its Premier League woes in 2016, and sits 7 points clear of the drop.
Stoke City 1-1 Sunderland — RECAP
The Black Cats have a right to feel aggrieved after picking up just a single point from the Britannia Stadium. Sunderland did not get a penalty called when Geoff Cameron may’ve handled a cross, and then Peter Crouch picked up a headed assist by boosting himself off Younes Kaboul. But Jermain Defoe earned and converted a penalty kick that was just as suspect, and Sunderland remains a point back of Newcastle.
Watford 3-2 Aston Villa — RECAP
Troy Deeney grew up a Birmingham City fan, and my did he enjoy sticking the knife in the relegated enemy of his younger days. The Watford captain scored twice in stoppage time to avenge a 2-1 deficit and rise above 10-man Villa. Ciaran Clark scored early for Villa, but Almen Abdi scored a free kick for Watford, its first in PL history, to make it 1-1. Jordan Ayew put Villa ahead, but Aly Cissokho drew straight red with 16 minutes to play. That’s when Deeney went to work, and Watford went into the win column.
Everton 2-1 Bournemouth — RECAP
- PHOTO/VIDEO: Everton’s moving Hillsborough 96 tribute
What began with an emotional tribute to the Hillsborough 96 and their families ended with a much-needed win for Roberto Martinez. Leighton Baines scored his first goal from the run of play since 2013, while Tom Cleverley also scored for the Toffees. Marc Pugh scored for Bournemouth.
West Bromwich Albion 0-3 West Ham United — RECAP
Slaven Bilic‘s Hammers aren’t giving up in their quest to reach the Top Four, as industrious Mark Noble grabbed two goals in leading West Ham to a big road win. Tony Pulis‘ dogged defense couldn’t hold serve against the Irons, who pull into fifth pending the result of Manchester United’s Sunday match against Leicester City.
This is tight, tense and getting horrible for the three teams battling it out at the bottom.
We know Aston Villa has already been relegated but three teams — Norwich City, Sunderland and Newcastle United — are in a dogfight to avoid relegation.
Three into two doesn’t go.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Just two points separates the three aforementioned teams going into the final two weeks of the season. Plus, Crystal Palace isn’t out of the picture either as they have 39 points but Alan Pardew‘s side should be fine. Just.
Newcastle United is the form team as Rafael Benitez’s side is now unbeaten in four games and grabbed a huge 1-0 win against Palace on Saturday, while Sunderland is solid under Sam Allardyce and have lost just once in eight games but have six draws in that span.
Below is a look at the relegation picture, plus the remaining fixtures for all three teams as Newcastle have just two games left, while both Sunderland and Norwich have three.
Who do you think will survive out of these three teams?
Newcastle United – 17th place, 33 points
May 7 – Aston Villa (A)
May 15 – Tottenham Hotspur (H)
Sunderland – 18th place, 32 points
May 7 – Chelsea (H)
May 11 – Everton (H)
May 15 – Watford (A)
Norwich City – 19th place, 31 points
May 7 – Manchester United (H)
May 11 – Watford (H)
May 15 – Everton (A)
Looking at the schedules above, Newcastle has a great chance of getting at least three points from their remaining two games with an away trip to Aston Villa up next, plus if Tottenham is out of the title race heading into the final game then it may be a great chance to pick up another three points at home.
Sunderland will find it tough going against Chelsea and Everton but home advantage will be key, while the final game away at Watford, a team who has nothing to play for, could be the crucial one. They hold their own destiny in their hands. Win all three and they will stay up.
As for Norwich, they won’t expect much against Manchester United next up but they will fancy their chances of picking up at least four points against Watford and Everton in their final two games. Simply put, nobody knows which of these two teams will go down and it’s likely to stay that way until the final minutes of the season.